LSUA releases its July 2021 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard

Local News

ALEXANDRIA La. (WNTZ) – The Louisiana State University of Alexandria College of Business releases its July 2021 issue of the CENLA Economic Dashboard. “Travel and housing remain strong sectors of the local economy this summer,” says Dr. Randall Dupont, Dean of the LSUA College of Business.

“Travelers are taking to the skies again,” says Dupont. According to the July 2021 CENLA Economic Dashboard, Alexandria International Airport leads in the state in the percentage of air passenger traffic returning to the skies. Last month, passenger traffic at AEX reached 109% of the 2019 level compared to only 74% for the state and nation. AEX is expected to continue outperforming 2019 levels now that a new East coast route via Charlotte has been established with American Airlines. Travelers are hitting the roads too. Gasoline sales in Louisiana in April, the latest available data, remained at the highest level in two years and were 49% above April 2020, the first full month of the pandemic shutdown. 

Furthermore, vehicle sales and hotel occupancy are up throughout the region. Compared to 2020, vehicles sales since January are up from 25% in St. Landry to 49% in Rapides. Logistical and supply issues along with strong demand have cut auto inventories. Auto dealers are increasingly selling cars before they even hit the lot. Likewise, local hotel occupancy is up for the year ranging from 17% in Avoyelles to 20% in Rapides.

“Housing continues to show strength,” says Dupont, “as home sellers return to the market. Active listings are up 25% in June and higher prices have not slowed sales,” he added.  In June the average listing price increased 6%, while the median listing price was up 11%. And the pace of sales accelerated as well. Median days on the market fell -32% in June from May and -46% from June 2020. Homes took an average of 38 days to sell in June compared to 70 days a year ago, the fastest pace in 5 years and the second straight monthly record. Lumber prices have pulled back slightly in June falling -1.5%, but remain 39% higher than the first of the year.

“The strong economy continues to create challenges in hiring,” says Dupont, which he expects will moderate some through the summer if unemployment increases. Employment in central Louisiana remained steady in May with a 5.5% unemployment rate compared to 6.7% for the state. Rapides reported a 4.6% unemployment rate, slightly up from 4.5% in April. However, the statewide unemployment rate rose to 7.4% in June. The labor supply remains tight in the Alexandria metro area standing at two openings for each unemployed. For the thirteenth straight month, the Alexandria MSA had the lowest unemployment rate in the state among metro areas with a rate of 4.6%, with New Orleans reporting the highest at 8.1%.

The CENLA Economic Dashboard is a service of the LSUA College of Business to help business and community leaders monitor the economic pulse of central Louisiana.

To view the July 2021 CENLA Economic Dashboard, click here.  

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